Saudi Despotism Rears Its Ugly Head Again
Saudi Arabia is the Arab world’s most ruthless dictatorship, a despotic crime family masquerading as a nation-state.
Notorious for public beheadings, whippings, torture, political imprisonments, supporting terrorism, wars of aggression, and other lawless actions, royal family rule is absolute.
Headed by crown prince Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), his father king Salman in too ill-health to govern, no opposition is tolerated, no civil and human rights afforded ordinary Saudis, no rule of law, due process or judicial fairness.
Arbitrary arrests, kidnappings, detentions, and assassinations are commonplace.
Iron-fisted MBS rule runs things extrajudicially. A reign of terror followed his ascension to power, including arrests and detentions of hundreds of royal family members and Saudi businessmen.
Confined in 2017 under house arrest at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, they were forced to pay tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in cash and assets to the regime for release — MBS grand theft on the pretext of rooting out corruption.
He consolidated power by eliminating rivals and terrorizing potential ones, another mass purge underway.
Reportedly around 20 princes were arrested and detained for allegedly planning a coup to replace MBS, including former crown prince Mohammad bin Nayef (MBN) and king Salman’s younger brother Ahmed bin Abdulaziz.
Following their detention, MBS ordered royal family members to affirm loyalty to his rule.
According to Reuters, he accused targeted princes of “contacts with foreign powers, including the Americans and others, to carry out a coup d’etat,” adding:
King Salman signed the arrest warrants despite suffering from dementia.
The ongoing royal family purge is the latest MBS attempt to solidify unchallenged control of the kingdom — to prevent a possible power struggle when ailing king Salman dies.
According to the Wall Street Journal, arrests and detentions of prominent Saudi princes on Friday “clear(ed) away once-formidable rivals to the throne,” citing unnamed sources familiar with what’s going on.
Targeted individuals face life imprisonment or execution, according to “people familiar with the situation,” the Journal reported.
Prince Ahmad formerly served as interior minister “with oversight of troops and Saudi Arabia’s large intelligence service. MBN had close ties to US intelligence,” said the Journal, adding:
Hardline internal crackdowns to eliminate rivals and silence dissent by MBS, along with Jamal Khashoggi’s October 2018 assassination in Istanbul, “alienated many in the US and Europe.”
The NYT cited unnamed sources “close to the royal court (who) insisted that the crown prince had little fear of a coup against him because he already controls all the levers of power inside the kingdom, including the military, internal security forces and the national guard.”
In July 2018, the Middle East Eye reported that “dissident (Saudi) prince Khaled bin Farhan urged Prince Ahmed to seize power from MBS to protect the kingdom from his ‘irrational, erratic and stupid’ rule.”
Following Khashoggi’s murder in October 2018, CIA director Gina Haspel reportedly heard damning audio evidence, documenting his cold-blooded murder, implicating MBS for ordering it.
Since appointed crown prince in June 2017, he consolidated power by eliminating potential rivals, solidifying control over kingdom domestic and geopolitical affairs – including its economy, foreign relations, military, interior ministry, and intelligence/security apparatus.
His elevation to power displaced Mohammad bin Nayef as heir to the Saudi throne, a Western intelligence favorite.
Some of Riyadh’s closest allies believe he’s too reckless and untrustworthy to lead the kingdom — the CIA and Britain’s MI6 perhaps wanting him replaced.
In late 2018, dissident prince Ahmad returned to the kingdom from London after receiving international guarantees for his safety.
Now he and other princes are detained on charges of plotting to topple MBS, destabilizing the kingdom at a time of international turmoil over growing economic weakness, production declines, and disruptions to global supply chains.
After OPEC countries and Russia failed to agree on cutting production to stabilize prices, futures plunged 9% on Friday, further destabilizing shaky economic conditions.
So do fear-mongering COVID-19 headlines about a global situation that doesn’t remotely suggest an epidemic or pandemic threat at this time.
In his first 1932 inaugural address, Franklin Roosevelt said “(t)he only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
There’s plenty of it around today, especially about COVID-19, making things worse than is warranted.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”